In all my trips to California I never driven on a toll road and I found these highways to be great ways to minimize traffic. What I didn't realize is some of these roads require you to have exact change and unlike every other toll I have ever seen in my life, if you don't have exact change you are left without many options. Although I did spy a toll booth without people and with a machine to make change, at another toll there was no such machine. Worse, there was no way to use dollar bills or credit cards. This is surprising as even the machines at airports distributing carts can do that. Moreover a sign will tell you there is a minimum fine of $40 -- perhaps it was $45. It turns out by the way that we had $.45 and needed $.75. It will be interesting to see how California authorities determine how to bill us and how the rent-a-car company gets us the bill -- and when. I expect to see something by January. Certainly this isn't the most efficient way to collect revenue.
Interestingly this incident happened up on a long drive to Rodopi Software who by the way makes -- you guessed it -- billing solutions for the world of IP communications.
Todd Benjamin, the company's President & CEO spent some time explaining what his company has been up to in the billing world. Rodopi hasn't been in the news too often recently and that looks to be changing soon. The most recent news I found in fact was the company's decision to partner with MetaSwitch.
It should come as no surprise that IP telephony is one of the hottest areas of growth for Rodopi Software. But there is an interesting trend towards how the European and US worlds of IP communications are diverging. For example in Europe operators are selling VoIP and other bundled services such as backup and security. In the US, Pure-play VoIP seems to be the rule.
Todd had some great points about telecom and mentioned that VoIP billing systems once didn't have to deal with things like the Universal Service Fund, Taxes and 911. Now he says the world has changed and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I asked what some of the challenges the mid-market service providers are facing and he told me primarily these companies don't have the business processes in place or the experience to construct their own billing solution. That is where his company comes in -- but you still need to have the processes in place to be able to bill effectively.
Rodopi Software will be at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo in a few weeks showcasing their billing and related solutions, Expect some new announcements from them very soon.